Bertolt Brecht, and his mates Hanns Eisler and Kurt Weill, were top creative radicals in the Nazi era and beyond, standing up against fascism, capitalism and what seemed like everlasting hardship. Brecht is probably best known for his Threepenny Opera – an `opera for beggars', first performed in 1928, which basically took the piss out of Handel and other elitist warble-mongers.
Now, inspired by Brecht, Eilser and Weill, comes the Threepenny Festival, billed as `drama for hard times', and happening this week from 14th to 17th November.
On the final day, Sunday 17th, Salford people from Ordsall Community Arts (OCA) are putting on a piece called Care and Cash, as part of the Hard Times Cabaret night at the Miners Community Arts and Music Centre in Moston, alongside stand up comedians, poets, singers and street bands.
The Ordsall endeavour consists of sketches and songs imagining a world where everything is up for grabs, and private providers have taken over the whole of the NHS, offering six pregnancy tests for the price of five.
"We were very excited at the chance of creating new work for the Festival" says Gail Skelly of OCA "Brecht, particularly, is an important character in a big list of 20th Century artists whose critical work influenced the growth of the whole community arts movement.
"In his work there are loads of useful techniques to create satire, and expose the lunacy of the gross contradictions at play in our lives which were there in his lifetime and are still there today" she adds "Arguably, they are now more powerful.
"It's also inspired us to initiate a project with young women, looking at sexual health and rates of teenage pregnancies" she explains "Recently, a health worker, almost in tears, told me that it's shocking how little some young people know about sexual health and contraception. She said listening to some young people's lack of basic education was like going back in time. So yes, I think Brecht's work, exposing injustices and inequalities, hasn't dated at all – it's still very necessary and relevant."
Aidan Jolly, one of the organisers of the Festival, said "it's been inspiring to work with Gail and the others at Ordsall Community Arts, and to see what they can come up with in such a short space of time - and obviously, people in Salford are at the blunt end of the cuts at the moment, and they know what they're talking about."
Care and Cash by Ordsall Community Arts is on as apart of the Hard Times Cabaret night at the Miners Community Arts and Music Centre in Moston on Sunday 17th November 7:30pm
Tickets £5/£3 can be ordered online at www.threepennyfestival.org, or reserved by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
The Threepenny Festival - which has as its patrons Maxine Peake, Noreen Kershaw and Juliet Stevenson - runs from Thursday 14th- Sunday 17th November and includes Brecht, Eilser and Weill related stuff at venues around Manchester. For full details on the Festival and the folk who inspired it see www.threepennyfestival.org